Imprisoned Abolitionist Stephen Wilson was taken to the hole (RHU) today (8/10/2020). His crime? Voicing a concern to the block’s unit manager. The problem was simple enough. We are locked in our cells for 19 1/2 hours most days. When it is time for our recreational periods the guards let us out late and lock us in early. Stevie simply wanted to know why they keep taking time from us. However prisoners are not expected to use their voices during a pandemic. Hours later the guards came to Stevie’s cell, cuffed him, and marched him away. Prison officials allege abusive or threatening language. Really they just wanted to silence him. This act is just the latest in a series of oppressive misconducts against prisoners. Stevie is just the most recent target.
For weeks the guards have been writing people up on bogus charges in an attempt to suppress potential resistance. Others have been given misconducts for actions such as walking up the stairs to ones cell (unauthorized area). Carrying extra prison food (contraband). And now Stevie for using his voice. The prison superintendents voice was broadcast over our TVs just a few days ago. “We want to remind everyone that this is not a punishment. This is for your own safety” he said. Not a punishment? From my cell it sure felt like punishment. No doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the lives of everyone inside and out. Free world people sheltered in place. They ordered food on Grubhub, clothes on MTailor, and everything else on Amazon. Families took socially distanced walks in the park. Or they just went for a drive when they felt like getting out of the house.
Those of us in prison got locked down. In PA we spent 23 hours and 15 minutes in the cell each day. For 45 minutes we were let out of our small box into a larger box. Weeks passed like that.Finally they gave us the “privilege” to be locked in the cell for 19 1/2 hours a day. We are isolated into groups of 40 people on the block. They created short incremental recreational periods. Then they let us out late and watch us fight each other over who gets to use the phone.
Stevie got tired of it. We are all tired of it. Not tired of protecting ourselves from COVID. Tired of being pitted against each other. Tired of the the guards’ oppression. Our only physical visits are from COs searching our cells. But I’m supposed to smile and be grateful for them “protecting me”? Fuck that. Let’s be clear – the only way a prisoner is going to catch the virus is if the guards or staff bring it in. And I do not believe that taking temperatures at the door is going to keep the virus out. Haven’t they heard of the term Asymptomatic by now? Don’t they know that it can take multiple days before a person starts showing symptoms? We don’t want to be in here when one of them brings the virus in. We have to continue the progress that has been made releasing people from jails and prisons.
To those who cage us: You want to protect us? Then let us out of this damn petri dish you call a prison. Let Stephen Wilson out of the hole for expressing a legitimate concern. Stop putting on this hollow performance of safety and security. Open up these gates! To our Allies, Comrades, and Accomplices: Dis-Organize this prison. Call SCI Fayette and give us a voice. Be a voice for Stephen Wilson and tell the administration to let him out of the RHU. Let them know that we have your support.